Lulworth Skipper (Thymelicus acteon)

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2017 photographs highlighted in yellow. Click on any photograph to go to an enlarged picture, or simply scroll down the page.

21122_male_Var_28Jun10 33687_male_Var_12Jul13 35028_male_Var_30May14
16399_female_Var_21Jun09 25446_female_Var_07Jun11 20827_male_Var_16Jun10
   
33018_male_Var_20Jun13    

Another misnamed butterfly, although there is some justification for the English name as it is still found around the Lulworth area on the Dorset coast, even though it is widespread across Europe. Acteon is not particularly common in France, and could easily be missed because of its similar appearance to the Small Skipper (T. sylvestris) or the Essex Skipper (T. lineola), especially the male acteon in which the upf horseshoe-shaped orange band is not so well marked. This orange band is 100% characteristic

of acteon and more pronounced in the female.

The sexes can be differentiated by the body length, much longer in the male - see above - and the upf sex brand (black streak) which only the male has, as well as the strength of the orange band as noted earlier. I found, much to my surprise, that 90% of the acteon photographs I have taken are of females.

ref sex

observations

alt. m
21122 M

a fresh male, showing how faint the upf orange band is, even when fresh.

450
33687 M a rather dark male, the sex brand being visible, although the orange band is quite difficult to make out. 680
35028 M a rather dark male, the pale horseshoe mark being barely visible. The sex brand is almost concealed. 20
16399 F

I originally thought this was a male based on the abdominal hair tuft, even though the upf orange band seemed more pronounced than that shown in T&L for a male. However, the absence of a sex brand and the shorter body length, as well as the strong orange band, clearly indicate female. The apparent hair tuft at the end of the abdomen turns out to be a red herring.

20
25446 F a female, for much the same reasons as 16399. 20
20827 M a male, although difficult to tell from the underside alone. The acteon underside is very similar to sylvestris and lineola. 10
33018 M a male, taking salts from the ground and depositing a globule of liquid from the abdomen from time to time. From the underside alone, it is perhaps impossible to distinguish between the three Thymelicus species. 560

 

21122_male_Var_28Jun10

 

33687_male_Var_12Jul13

 

35028_male_Var_30May14

 

16399_female_Var_21Jun09

 

25446_female_Var_07Jun11

 

20827_male_Var_16Jun10

 

33018_male_Var_20Jun13